An older child with poor vision

It was thought that little could be done for children with poor vision over the age of 7. We now know that older children can be treated. It is not as effective as younger children, but dramatic improvements in vision can be achieved. About 25% will improve with glasses alone and 50% if patching is included.

It felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I had just been told by a high street optician at a routine eye test that my son had precious little vision in his left eye, and that he would lose his remaining sight over time because he was too old for treatment. Prescribing glasses wouldn’t help and there was nothing to be done. Or so we were told.

Cameron was eight-years-old and an excellent sportsman, playing cricket and football competitively, and to a good standard for his age. He did not have a squint and had not displayed any other obvious signs of sight problems, and nor had he complained of any.

After 24-hours in a daze, paralysed by a combination of shock and fear for Cameron’s future, a burning desire for a second opinion kicked in. At an appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London shortly afterwards, Mr Reddy and his team diagnosed left anisometropic amblyopia – a lazy left eye to you and me. In stark contrast to the ‘advice’ from the optician, there was reason to be optimistic.

His treatment was a combination of glasses and a regime of patching for two hours a day. Over the coming months the improvement in his vision was dramatic. Letters which were previously a blur, came into focus. His vision reached the level required for driving, and improved still further.

Our experience has taught me two important things: that treatment of lazy eye can be successful in older children, but that not all high street opticians are yet aware that this is the case.

If we had simply accepted the initial assessment, Cameron’s sight would almost certainly have deteriorated still further. Instead it has improved significantly over a 12 month period – because we refused to accept what we were initially told, and because of the expertise of Mr Reddy and his team.

Duncan Hart